You can survive some injuries, and the Falcons were clearly going to push through the Bradie Ewing and Kroy Biermann's season-ending woes. Now we've got another one, and this one hurts. Badly.
The Falcons have placed linebacker Sean Weatherspoon on injured-reserve-designated to return. #ATLvsMIA— Jay Adams (@FalconsJAdams) September 17, 2013
Losing 'Spoon is a huge blow to a linebacking corps that already wasn't exactly brimming with depth. The upshot here is that Joplo Bartu will continue to start outside, with Stephen Nicholas back in the starting lineup unless the Falcons make a signing. You know what? Screw it, the Falcons are definitely making a signing. Stay tuned for that.
'Spoon isn't exactly the most consistent linebacker in the NFL, but he has gobs of talent, a ton of athleticism and is a key starter in this defense. Losing him immediately impacts the team's ability to rush the passer and drop linebackers back into coverage, and it takes away considerable athleticism. Starting Bartu and 'Spoon gave the Falcons a ton of speed. Losing 'Spoon erases any athletic advantage you got from starting Bartu over Nicholas. AGGGGH WHY?
Now that I've put my despair in a little wooden box, it's time to talk about practical reality. 'Spoon has been designated to return, so he's not out for the season unless he can't recover from this injury. He'll be eligible to return in Week 11 if all goes well, so the Falcons may be without his services for only half the season until of all of it. That's small consolation now, but it matters a great deal for a team with playoff aspirations.
The Falcons will need to address linebacker immediately. Whether they just bring back someone like Pat Schiller to provide quality depth or they take a swing at someone like Jermaine Cunningham, who has some experience and athleticism to draw upon as a possible (but not likely) starting option, a signing will be coming, possibly as soon as today.
In the meantime, expect to see plenty of Bartu and Paul Worrilow, and expect to see the Falcons filling three holes. This season so far has been one hell of a roller coaster.